IMPACT Article of the Month
Friday’s Supreme Court decision, which made same sex marriage a right in the United States of America, gave London Pride extra resonance this year. However, for me, the event was marred by the decision to ban UKIP from the pride parade. This decision was taken, as argued in a statement from the organisers, not due to political reasons, but because they wanted the event to be peaceful and merry. Essentially, London Pride told LGBTQ UKIP supporters that they were no longer really welcome. Such factional splintering should be diametrically antagonistic to the pride movement.
In modern society, hiding behind keyboards is the new public state, where reputations are ruined by trivial mistakes and digressions from the group are hounded out. This group think has alienated many would-be allies from having anything to do with active campaigning. The frothing-at-the-mouth temperament that infuses everyday life makes this new insult to LGBTQ members of UKIP not remotely surprising. Creating a position of ‘you are with us or against us’ on every issue without recognising a middle ground, or grey areas, has subdued creativity, clever campaigning, and it will come to harm the LGBTQ movement.
What’s even more ironic is that gay rights communities, who have been discriminated against for so long, are now in the midst of segregating those who happen to share a different political belief. The oppressed becoming the oppressor isn’t a new or original story. However, the modern propensity to hound the outlier risks creating an echo chamber in which virtually nothing can be done, seen, or discussed. The unforgettable Martin Niemoller poem ‘first they came’ is a timely reminder of what happens when we encourage intellectual cowardice, and a witch hunt mentality.
Of course, no-one has mourned the loss of the UKIP LGBTQ wing from the march. They would have been few in number, and of course people who support UKIP are just nasty bigots. They aren’t people with real concerns, worries, or individual identities. While the Conservatives march in gay pride, not a word is whispered. This despite the fact that the Prime Minister has a lamentable voting record on LGBTQ rights. Indeed, the Prime Minister voted against the destruction of Section 28 across Great Britain, against giving Lesbian couples access to IVF treatment, and he voted against gay couples being able to adopt children. There are still significant parts of the Conservative Party which are no real friends of the LGBTQ community. This was highlighted by the fact that a majority of Conservative MPs voted against the same sex marriage bill. I don’t agree that the Conservatives should have been prevented from marching, but I would like to see some consistency. Sadly, it’s easy to call out UKIP and leave the ‘big’ parties alone. The inexcusable state of modern activism continues at its own peril.